Impeachment witness and former National Security Council Ukraine expert Alexander Vindman called President Donald Trump Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “useful idiot” in a new interview with The Atlantic.
“President Trump should be considered to be a useful idiot and a fellow traveler, which makes him an unwitting agent of Putin,” Vindman told The Atlantic’s editor-in-chief, Jeffrey Goldberg.
“They may or may not have dirt on him, but they don’t have to use it,” he said when asked if the Kremlin has material to blackmail Trump. “They have more effective and less risky ways to employ him. He has aspirations to be the kind of leader that Putin is, and so he admires him. He likes authoritarian strongmen who act with impunity, without checks and balances. So he’ll try to please Putin.”
Vindman, who retired from the military this July over a retaliatory campaign by the president that stalled his promotion to the rank of colonel, gained a national profile with his testimony against the president in the House’s impeachment inquiry last year.
“The president destroyed my Army career,” Vindman told Goldberg in the interview published Monday. “I’m not crying over spilled milk. I have other things to do.”
The Atlantic interview marks Vindman’s first public remarks against Trump since the impeachment hearings.
“I was drawn into this by the president, who politicized me. I think it’s important for the American people to know that this could happen to any honorable service member, any government official,” he said. “I think it’s important for me to tell people that I think the president has made this country weaker.”